With multiple COVID-19 vaccines now available, many people have wondered if it is safe to drink alcohol after getting the vaccine. Because these vaccines are so new, this is one of the many questions that has not been researched yet. There is currently no scientific evidence on whether it is safe to drink alcohol after the vaccine.
While there is no good research in this area yet, doctors recommend avoiding alcohol in the days before and after getting vaccinated. The purpose of the vaccine is to teach your immune system how to respond to the virus that causes COVID-19. Alcohol will naturally suppress your immune system, potentially decreasing the effectiveness of the vaccine.
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Vaccine Side Effects
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 vaccine may cause some specific side effects. At the site of the injection, these include:
There are also side effects that may occur systemically throughout your body. According to the CDC, the most common of these include:
- Muscle pain
Vaccine side effects may also vary based on the brand of vaccine used and your overall health. If you have concerns about potential vaccine side effects, you should ask the provider giving your vaccine.
The side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine are thought to reflect your body’s immune system’s response as it learns how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. More intense side effects can be a sign that your body is developing a strong response to the vaccine, helping you better fight COVID-19 in the future.
If your vaccine is given in two parts, side effects may be worse during the second of the two shots. This is because your immune system has already partially learned how to attack the COVID-19 virus and has a stronger response than it did the first time.
Alcohol’s Impact on the Immune System
Alcohol is known to suppress peoples’ immune systems. While many people think about the effects of alcohol as occurring over a long time, studies show that a single drinking episode can suppress the immune system for 24 hours.
While any alcohol use can have a negative effect on the immune system, long-term alcohol use or binge drinking can have an especially negative immune system effect. In a recent study by The Recovery Village, heavy drinkers were 61% more likely to have a weakened immune system as a long-term health complication.
Alcohol use can also increase the likelihood that people will have impaired judgment that can cause them to engage in risky behaviors. This may expose them to potential infections they would not be exposed to otherwise.
Health Side Effects of Drinking After Being Vaccinated
While there is no research yet on how drinking alcohol impacts someone after they are vaccinated, many doctors recommend that people not use alcohol the days before or after getting vaccinated. This is primarily because alcohol use can suppress your immune system, potentially reducing how well the COVID-19 vaccine works.
There are two possible side effects that drinking alcohol before or after getting vaccinated may cause. If alcohol use is severely suppressing the immune system, the vaccine’s side effects may be lessened. This could indicate that the vaccine is not working as well and your immune system is not responding as well as it should.
However, the vaccine may work well and cause its normal side effects. These side effects can be combined with the side effects that alcohol creates, making the entire experience more unpleasant. For example, headaches and nausea are both side effects of the vaccine and an alcohol hangover.
Health Side Effects of Drinking While Sick with COVID-19
Drinking alcohol while sick with COVID-19 can compound the symptoms of COVID-19. Alcohol is a natural toxin that your body has to process. Using alcohol at a time when your body is already fighting an illness may increase the stress that it is under and cause both the side effects of COVID-19 and alcohol to be more severe.
Using alcohol regularly also increases your risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most serious complications of COVID-19. Alcohol can damage your overall health, increasing the likelihood that other severe symptoms may occur.
Health Side Effects of Drinking Before/After Having COVID-19
Research shows that drinking alcohol significantly increases the risk of contracting COVID-19. The risks created by alcohol use increase with the amount you drink and over time. Heavy drinking damages the body and can lead to mental health conditions like addiction, which can make it harder to recover from COVID-19 and increase the likelihood of severe complications and deadly outcomes.
One complication from COVID-19 infections still being researched is the long-term effects of COVID-19, sometimes called “long-haul COVID.” While doctors do not yet understand how long-haul COVID-19 works, drinking alcohol may worsen its effects. There is no research into if alcohol can make long-haul COVID-19 more likely or more severe, but this does remain a possibility.
Ultimately, there is no solid research yet on how or if drinking interacts with the COVID-19 vaccine. The only information available on this topic is the educated guesses of healthcare experts based on current knowledge. Until research can prove these theories correct or not, it is probably best to err on the side of safety and avoid using alcohol in the days before and after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
While there is little research into how alcohol use affects the COVID-19 vaccine, solid research shows that alcohol use increases the risk of getting COVID-19 and that alcohol use can make a COVID-19 infection more severe.
Cutting back on your alcohol use has perhaps never been more important. The Recovery Village has helped thousands of people to overcome alcohol addiction and achieve a sober and healthy lifestyle. Contact a member of our caring team to learn more about how we can help you start on your road to recovery.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.” March 3, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.” March 16, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.
Welch, Ashley. “How Alcohol May Affect Your Response to the COVID-19 Vaccine.” Healthline. January 16, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.
Testino, Gianni. “Are Patients With Alcohol Use Disorders at Increased Risk for Covid-19 Infection?” Alcohol and Alcoholism. May 2020. Accessed May 4, 2021.
- Medical Disclaimer
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.